Habits are a part of our behavioral cycle. The cycle of habits begins from a term called ”habit loop”. As the name suggests, a loop is an inter-connected cycle that follows the other. Likewise, the process of how a habit is formed is interconnected.
Does this thought strike you, do habits magically come to us or do they take time to form? Either ways, one needs to do a thorough study to discover everything about habits. Some habits are naturally formed while some go through a gradual process.
In this article, let’s ride through the science and psychology on how long does it take to form a habit and how fast or slow can we get into and get over habits. Read through!
How to Determine the Time it Takes to Form A Habit – Get Set Go!
Logically, when a series of activities are repeated over a period of time in the same fashion whether knowingly or unknowingly it becomes a habit.
Habits are of two types. We are made of both the type of habits. A few of our habits are acquired with constant nurturing and practice. Whereas, certain habits do no take efforts as they co-exist.
Habits need not remain the same forever, they can be tuned with our state of mind. Some habits are formed naturally because of our personality traits. On the other hand, we inherit tons of habits not being consciously aware of it.
If you want to read in-depth about habits, you can consider reading Stephen R Covey’s book on the 7 habits of highly effective people.
What’s the time period to form a new habit? It does not take days to form a habit, consider these points that form a “habit loop”. A habit is formed when it is summed up in this sequence.
Thought +Plan +Action + Practice = A Habit
Once you get into this sequence, it is your decision whether to let the habit stay or leave the habit.
How are Effortless Habits Formed?
The effect that our brain has after experiencing an emotion leads to forming an effortless habitual behaviour, which has a long lasting effect on one’s life. Here is a simple instance that explains how emotion becomes a behavioural effect.
Say suppose you make a mistake by using your wet hands to turn off the lights at home. While you are switching off the lights because your hands are wet you experience a slight electric shock.
Your reaction of not turning on the lights with your wet hands once more becomes a natural behaviour pattern that you will never try again. So now you get used to this habit of no more touching electrical switches with wet hands.
How is a Habit Formed?
A habit can be thought about overnight. But to get to start following a habit it takes time and it is a process. Some habits exist for long and some do not. Some habits are momentary while some stay for long. In short, habits are not constant.
For instance – Today you want to lose weight and you will do all that it takes to work on losing weight. In case of tomorrow your body requires that you put on some weight then you would have to do all that it takes to put on. In this scenario, your habit is not constant. It is always influenced by choices, the feasibility of the situation and how seriously you want to work on the habit.
Before you consider forming a habit, do not have in mind about how long would it take to add that to your habits list. As per studies, the time it takes for a habit to come to practice is about 2 months. However, there are exceptions to this study as well. A habit becomes one based on how dedicated are you on grabbing the habit and how fast and well are you practising to make it a habit.
Ways to Form A Habit
Always think about good following a particular habit would do on you. Always choose to form a habit that causes no damage to you and get clarity as to why are you choosing a certain habit. Here are ways to form a habit
Way No 1: Start it Small
When you want to inculcate certain habits in your life you must begin it with small habits first, once you get into that zone of being able to achieve small habits then go on to adding on to more habits.
For instance: small habits could be a simple as making sure to drink a glass of water every one hour.
Way No 2: Choose Healthy Habits
Try and choose a habit that is going to do good to you and not harm you in any way. If you are investing time in forming a habit it must be advantageous to you and not have ill effects on you.
For instance: replace an unhealthy dish to a healthy one. Say suppose, you generally have a burger for breakfast. What you can do is replace burger with a protein shake.
Way No 3: Be Firm
Planning on implementing a habit or idea is different from putting it into practice. When you have thought of getting used to a habit see to it that you stay firm and push yourself to stay by it.
For Instance: If you want to make it a habit to wake up early every morning.If you are not used to this habit it will be extremely difficult for you initially, you will have an easy option to give up as well by taking your habit as an exception or excuse of letting go of it, even then you must fight this barrier and wake up at any cost. That’s how firm you got to be.
Way No 4: Check on the Progress of Your Habit
Just doing what you are doing does not end the story, it is of utmost importance that you keep a track on how well are you progressing in following your habit.
How can you do it?
Set short term goals and see how well are you following it every week. You should see a difference in the way you are getting used to the habit.
For Instance: Taking waking up early as an example, see how well are you getting used to the habit after a week and keep a track of what difficulties you faced in following the habit
Way No 5: Speak about the Habit that You are Going to Implement
Tell your friends and family that you are going to start working on a habit. When you do that you will be conscious that everybody around is noticing you and that will easily push you to follow your habit.
Way No 6: Let Affirmations Take Over
What we often say, we often end up doing it. This is true and you can try it out. Affirmations do two things, it passes on a message to nature and it tunes your mind on doing what you keep saying. Therefore, make affirmations about the habit and you will end up following it.
For instance: Say things like
I am going to wake up at 6.00 at any cost.
I will do all that it takes to complete my work before 10 pm.
How to Stick to a Habit?
We need motivation and a force that is compelling and convincing enough to follow. Here are some ideas on how you can be motivated to stick to a particular habit without finding it to be too much to handle
Idea No 1 – Bring in an Interest Factor
When you are finding it tough to follow a certain habit, you can break through this feeling by adding an interesting goal that will help you follow your habit.
For instance: If waking up early is tough for you then wake up and give 15 minutes time to what you love in order to be able to stay awake. For example, if you like dancing you can play music, if you love reading you can read an article etc.
Idea No 2 – Navel – Gaze on Why You Chose the Habit
Despite all the efforts you are making if you feel disinterested to follow all that it takes to form a habit, it is important for you to recheck with yourself on why are you intending to follow the habit. Think of the good it will do to you a month from now and let that be a factor to help you stay motivated to follow that habit.
Idea No 3 – Find an Ally
Find someone who is equally interested to stick to a habit that you are focusing on getting used to. When you have someone following the same thing you would motivate each other and share your best practices in beating this situation of not being able to stick to a habit.
Idea No 4: Retain the Habit
Most likely we tend to give up when we are being pulled out of our comfort zone. In order to stick to a habit, you must see to it that you do not give gaps in following your habits. Don’t break that routine of following a habit, if you follow a habit for two days and then do not stick to it anymore there are chances you may not be able to follow that habit.
Idea No 7: Pen Down Your Intended Actions
Penning down is any day a marvellous idea to think of when you want to seriously implement something in your life. As per a study done by the British Journal of health psychology, it is said that you are more likely to start developing a habit when you start to write down your intentions and your goals.
How to Recognize if a Habit is Good or Not?
Keep these points in mind :
- Any habit that is eating up your productive time is not a good habit
- A habit that is not going to add meaning to your life is pointless
- A habit that can shape you up in terms of getting more punctual and learning is a good habit
- A habit that can damage your physical and mental health is a bad habit
- A habit that is taking you towards procrastination is never good
Ways to Get over a Habit
Not all habits are great for us and when a habit becomes a wrong addiction it is time to get over it. Here is what to do to get over a habit. Follow these ways and find it easy to get over a habit
Way No 1 – Tune Your Mind
It is tough to follow this way, but tuning your mind helps tremendously. You gain self-control and the success rate of being able to get over a habit by tuning your mind is higher than any other technique although initially, it would be difficult to tune your mind.
To tune your mind you have to replace a negative thought with a positive one.
Way No 2: Set Short Goals to Cut Down on the Habit
It is not a decision that you can take overnight on cutting down on a habit. Just as it is a process to form a habit likewise it is a process to get over a habit as well. Say suppose your bad habit could be sleeping late at night.
What you can do is, instead of instantly starting to sleep early in the night you can start with sleeping half an hour early, then one hour early so on and so forth. Step by step you can decrease the frequency rather than stopping yourself from the habit all at once.
The psychology that your mind is used to will be disturbed it you do something all at once and the probability of getting over a habit gets less.
Watch this video to understand the science tied to how our mind works and how does the mind influence our habits. Whether it is easy or difficult to for a habit, choose them wise and follow them well.
We are all just a step away from making or breaking a habit. Our choices can make our life perfect or imperfect be developing the right habits.
Feel free to share your thoughts on this article!